Friday, February 06, 2009

Setting Standards

As I was on my run this morning through the local park, the name Roger Bannister popped into my head. For those unfamiliar with Sir Roger Bannister, he was the first person to ever break the four minute mile. Bannister, at the age of 25, made history by running 3:59.4 on May 6, 1954 in Oxford. A new standard had been set. Now here’s the interesting part, just one month later his record was broken by a gentleman named John Landy. And to top that, Bannister was in a race shortly after against Landy and broke his own record by running 3:58.8 to Landy’s 3:59.6. Over the next few years, several individuals were breaking the four minute mile.

So, why did Roger Bannister pop into my head? Well, yesterday, I attended a meeting at a local high school where I do some volunteer work as the strength and conditioning coach for the track and field team in the spring (and field hockey in the fall). I was asked to be there so I could talk to the kids about the importance of being physically prepared for their upcoming season, give them some ideas of what they should be doing now to be ready and to answer any questions they might have. Prior to me speaking, the head coach went over some “odds and ends” and doled out the important papers that every kid needs to have completed to participate in a high school sport. In between us was the running coach who had the floor for a few minutes. This coach has a phenomenal rapport with the kids, is well respected and admired and is a solid coach (and person) on many levels. In a matter of a few moments he captured the attention of every athlete in the room by letting them know that there were certain standards that would need to be met. These “standards” were performance times they were expected to achieve for specific distances if they were to be a valuable contributor to the team. I watched the expressions on some of the kids faces which ranged from an ear-to-ear smile because they were excited by the challenge to that of those who appeared to have just wet themselves at hearing the news. I’m sure that some of the kids may have mentally responded with “oh crap, I better get in shape if I want to be part of this team” while others found these figures to be an exciting challenge they would strive to concur. Regardless of the kids perception of the standards, the coach had acknowledged the “pink elephant in the room” and now everyone has something specific to focus on over the next several weeks, and throughout the season.

If you give it some thought, this is not only applicable to these kids but to each of us on many aspects of life.

“Train With A Purpose”
Fred Fornicola